Fukuoka 2023, Day 2 North America Recap: USA Wins First Gold, Hobson Breaks 1:45 In 2FR


Overall, team USA had a better showing than yesterday. There were some performances that raised concern, such as Hunter Armstrong and Lydia Jacoby barely making their respective finals races, but other than that there was nothing super devastating that occurred. In addition, the Americans had two very positive highlights—one being that Kate Douglass won her country’s first gold medal of the meet in the 200 IM, and two being that Luke Hobson broke 1:45 in the 200 free.

Kate Douglass Takes Gold

The headline of the night for the Americans was Douglass’s victory in the 200 IM. She touched first in a time of 2:07.17, just 0.08 slower than her U.S. Nationals time and 0.8 seconds ahead of silver medalist and fellow American Alex Walsh. With her gold, she has now won all the major titles that she could possibly win in the 200 IM in the last year, as she is also the reigning NCAA and Short Course World Champion in the event.

Yes, the competition field was greatly weakened in the 200 IM. Summer McIntosh, the world’s fastest performer, scratched out of the event, while fourth seed Kaylee McKeown (who has a best time just 0.02 seconds off of Douglass’s winning time) was DQed in the semi-finals. There’s no use speculating about who “would have” won this race—at the end of the day, Douglass was the one who touched the wall first and got gold. However, this does prove that the race in Paris will still be very competitive despite Douglass’s dominance in Fukuoka, as McKeown and McIntosh will be back in the mix.

In Douglass’s race, she had an incredible back half. After clocking the third-slowest backstroke split in the field, she turned in fifth at the 100-meter mark. However, she climbed her way to second after a 36.17 breaststroke split, and then ran down Alex Walsh with a 29.83 final 50 to take the win. And not to brag here, but I predicted Douglass’s 200 IM win (AND her final 50 being under 30 seconds) in SwimSwam’s wild predictions article published on January 2nd.

Race Splits:

Kate Douglass (gold) Alex Walsh (silver) Yu Yiting (bronze)
Fly 27.23 27.24 26.90
Back 33.89 31.96 32.90
Breast 36.17 36.99 37.90
Free 29.83 31.78 31.04
Total 2:07.17 2:07.97 2:08.74

Next, Douglass will take on the 100 free/200 breast double on day 5, and will likely be swimming on many more relays after her 52.29 anchor leg on Sunday—which helped Team USA take silver in the 4×100 free relay.

Luke Hobson Breaks Through

After no Americans made the final of the men’s 400 free, there was discussion on the downfall of U.S. men’s mid-distance freestyle. However, the American men bounced back in the 200 free, with Luke Hobson and Kieran Smith both making the final. In addition, Luke Hobson clocked a 1:44.87 to head into finals as the second overall seed. He becomes the sixth American to break 1:45 in the 200 free, as well as the fourth-fastest American of all-time.

All-Time Top U.S. Performers, Men’s 200-Meter Freestyle:

  1. Michael Phelps — 1:42.96 (2008)
  2. Ryan Lochte — 1:44.44 (2011)
  3. Kieran Smith — 1:44.74 (2021)
  4. Luke Hobson — 1:44.87 (2023)
  5. Dave Walters/Ricky Berens — 1:44.95 (2009)

If Hobson medals in the 200 free on Tuesday, he will become the first American to do so at a Worlds or Olympics since Townley Haas took Worlds silver in 2017. With Hobson at the helm and Smith also landing a spot in the final, the United States men’s 4×200 free relay looks to be in strong shape.

Other North American Highlights:

  • North Americans made up 2/3 of the women’s 100 fly podium, with Canada’s Maggie MacNeil taking silver (56.45) and America’s Torri Huske (56.61) getting bronze. Gretchen Walsh, the second representative for the U.S., finished eighth in a time of 57.58. MacNeil won Canada’s first medal of Worlds.
  • America’s Nic Fink won silver in a three-way-tie with Italy’s Nicolo Martinenghi and the Netherlands’ Arno Kamminga, with all three swimmers touching in a time of 58.75. Fink’s teammate Josh Matheny placed seventh in a time of 59.45.
  • America’s Dare Rose placed sixth in the 50 fly final in a time of 23.01, though his 22.79 from semi-finals would have taken silver.
  • All of the Americans placed top eight in their respective semi-finals this session: Ryan Murphy and Hunter Armstrong in the men’s 100 back, Regan Smith and Katharine Berkoff in the women’s 100 back, Lilly King and Lydia Jacoby in the women’s 100 breast, and Luke Hobson and Kieran Smith in the men’s 200 free.

North America Medal table

Gold Silver Bronze Total
United States 1 5 2 8
Canada 1 1

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2 months ago

USA claims gold prize,
Douglass shines with great surprise,
Hobson breaks through skies.

Air Quality at YMCA Pools
2 months ago

Luke Hobson is daddy

Reply to  Air Quality at YMCA Pools
2 months ago

Yeah Hobson was the big story tonight. His 200 semi looked controlled, superb and quick. Dare I say it, but look for him to feature heavily in the final from what I saw 🤞 (and this comment from an Aussie).

2 months ago

US might challenge the 800 FR world record if smith can go 1:44 on the fly.

GB will not go quietly in the pursuit of the record either

Will be a great race tomorrow night and later this week

2 months ago

Gretchen Walsh has been wholly terrible so far

Christopher DeBari
2 months ago

Kate and Alex!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That WR will be toast if Kate can get that backstroke split faster.

Reply to  Christopher DeBari
2 months ago

She should have been faster in fly leg also

About Yanyan Li

Yanyan Li

Although Yanyan wasn't the greatest competitive swimmer, she learned more about the sport of swimming by being her high school swim team's manager for four years. She eventually ventured into the realm of writing and joined SwimSwam in January 2022, where she hopes to contribute to and learn more about …

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